Thank you so much to Caffeine Book Tours, as well as the author and publisher for giving me a copy of ‘Wings of Ebony’ in exchange for an unbiased, and honest review!! This is my stop for the tour, and you can click the banner below to view the full schedule, and explore other posts!!
Title: Wings of Ebony
Author: J. Elle
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: Wings of Ebony (Book #1 in series)
Publication Date: January 26, 2021
Trigger Warnings: Representations of gun violence (not graphic), Reference to drugs, Reference to murder, Reference to genocide, On-page racism, Violence
Final Rating: 4.5 stars
Synopsis (via Goodreads):
“Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue’s taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders.
Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life.
Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghizon—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.
What I liked
The relatable characters. These days, in a lot of YA novels, just the portrayal of the characters, and what age they are is not done right. However, in Wings of Ebony, I found that along with feeling relatable, all the characters were fleshed out really well. I didn’t find any side characters lacking depth, and all the main characters relationships, as well as her complete identity were complex, and structured skillfully. Seeing her relationships with the people around her, and how they slowly evolved was so interesting to see, because they were so developed, and each action could make or break a relationship. Another thing I adored was the family relationships. Seeing how she bonded with her sister was definitely one of my favourite parts of the novel, but I also loved seeing how she grew to care for her father over time, and how she handled with the loss of her mother.
The emotional impact this book had on me. Although its a fantasy novel, Wings of Ebony touches so many pertinent topics, such as racism, and gang violence, and I loved that this book didn’t briefly touch these topics, and then shy away, but instead portray them exactly as they are, and shone light upon how cruel the world can be. However, along with showing us the brutal side of the world, it also shows us how family, in the end, matters above all, and how we can find friends in the places we least expect them to be. Full of important themes and messages, I know that I’m not the only person it’s impacted, and many others would be deeply moved by it as well.
The flashbacks and pacing. Something I found really unique about this novel was the way that flashbacks were incorporated into the plot and storyline. This helped create layers to the story, and just helped me understand Rue’s character, and see her grow a lot easier. Seeing the way her past had impacted her present, and just watching her become hesitant over the tiniest of actions, showed us that above all she was human, and gave us a strong main character to root for. I usually don’t like super fast-paced books because they tend to feel rushed, but Wings of Ebony manages to stay gripping all the same, and left me longing for more by the time I was done.
What wasn’t my cup of tea
Only getting a glimpse of the magic systems. I loved the worldbuilding in this novel, and the magic system was so intriguing to read about! I mean – not being able to touch humans because that could risk revealing your identity? That sounds so interesting, and I only wish it was more elaborated on! Since there is a second book coming up (it’s announced, but still untitled!), I’m hoping that we get to see the magic system more in depth over there!
Wings of Ebony is a powerful, unflinching debut that isn’t afraid to address critical issues in today’s world under an honest light. Important themes such as Racism, and Gang Violence are highlighted throughout the book, and are given the attention they deserve. Along with this, we see multiple journeys of self discovery and exploration, that help make the characters feel so much more relatable, and will have you gripping the edge of your seat, wondering if they’ll make it out the next time. Raw, and beautiful, Wings of Ebony is a debut I was greatly moved by, and one that is sure to impact you too.
My Moodboard ~
About the Author
J. Elle was born in Houston, Texas, and is a first-generation college student with a bachelor’s in journalism and MA in educational administration and human development. An advocate for marginalized voices in both publishing and her community, J. Elle’s passion for empowering youth dates back to her first career in education. She’s worked as a preschool director, middle school teacher, and high school creative writing mentor. In her spare time, she volunteers at an alternative school, provides feedback for aspiring writers, loves on her three littles, and cooks up dishes true to her Texas and Louisiana roots.